If you want something, go and get it! Find a way or make one!
I’m Dave Williams and, as always, I’m here on Scott’s blog for #TravelTuesday for you! I aim to enlighten and inspire every week with something to do with photography, Photoshop, and life. Today, I want to provoke you to take last week’s personal project and monetise it, either directly or indirectly.
When we shoot as professionals, that is to say, we are making money from our photography, we are doing more or less everything with a goal in mind—a bill that needs paying! Removing that element of life and shooting for self-development allows a relief of the stresses and pressures placed upon us (by others or by ourselves), so we can afford more of our efforts on the creative aspects of the shoot rather than the “end goal.” It’s important to have that creativity in the moment, to enjoy the moment, rather than simply aiming for that end goal, and it’s an aspect of photography that is worth incorporating into everyday life. Here’s why: –
Whilst it’s good and often important to have a goal in sight, staring at that goal won’t get you anywhere on its own. Concentrating your energy and efforts on the here and now is what makes things change and ultimately what shows your value as a person. It’s what shows your commitment and understanding, not of what you want to achieve but how you’ll achieve it.
I’ve found that whilst I can take a good image of a place the first time I visit, I often think of better images and better techniques and want to revisit until I nail it. It’s this which prompted me to undertake personal projects, which develop my skill as a photographer (and storyteller) and allow me to get better images the first time around. But, that said, the second visit (and third and fourth) will never go away because…
“There’s no such thing as ‘just one last shot'” –Peter Treadway, 2014
This kinda has a few meanings to us photographers. It can mean that we’re usually such perfectionists that an image is never really finished, or it can mean that, actually, it is finished but we just find it hard to recognise when! That’s something to think about.
Here’s my current go-to example of second visits: –
Mont St-Michel, France. The image above was taken about five years ago, and the below image was taken a couple of months ago. I’d like to think both images work, and they’ve both sold so each has their own merit, but that is the very point—each has their own merit. Each shows the same place but in entirely different ways. It’s going to my development as a photographer that that’s happened, through grit, determination, practice, perseverance, and through personal projects! So, what about that one word I just said: “sold.” Let’s talk about that.
I’ve been talking to a few photographers lately about this, and whether it’s for the purpose of paying your bills or simply for funding new gear for your hobby, I implore you to get involved with monetising your photography. The people I’ve been talking to have been largely successful in the first stages of getting into stock photography, but there are other ways to monetise your photos. The world is a small place; you no longer need to be “famous” to make a living from photography, nor do you need to drive from home to home with a strobe and a backdrop in your car shooting family portraits. Here’s the thing: –
All those photos you see on billboards, in magazines, on leaflets, in menus, in newspapers, in brochures, on packaging, on computer screensavers, in books, on ads you scroll past online, literally everywhere, they all came from somewhere. Why not come from you?
Signing up for stock photography for these things is easy—all you have to remember is to play by the rules. For example, a test submission to a stock agency will state “common theme, not overly retouched, no brand names. in focus,” etc., etc., and as long as you stick to the rules (so that you pass the test submission), you can start to sell your images! It doesn’t have to be stock, of course. You can monetise your Instagram account in a similar way—find agencies who are looking for people and, again, follow the rules! Perhaps the rules are a common theme, signature look, 5,000+ followers, good engagement—follow the rules and you’re in! How about postcards? Take a look on the back of postcards next time you see a display rack and you’ll see the company who produces them printed on the back. Why not send them an e-mail? Send a few of your best images over and see how you get on—at worst, they say “no thanks,” and at best, you’re making money!
Seriously, no more excuses! It’s 2k19; it’s time to make your photography pay!
The cover image here is of me 13 years ago when I was living in South Africa. I was busy shooting thorns in the Klein Karoo area with my SLR (yes, SLR, no screen) and working out what kind of a photographer I was. Essentially, a whole series of personal projects, one after the other, finding a niche through the process.